How to Check and Prevent Hydraulic Fluid Leaks

Published: January 20, 2021 Last Updated: June 27, 2023 How To Series ,

machine leaking insideMost people know time is money. While it may be a tiresome cliché, no one wants to waste time or money. The more time you spend fixing or replacing your hydraulic cylinder, the more money you spend and ultimately lose.

Hydraulic cylinder leaks do not have to be large, all-encompassing leaks that result in pools of leaked fluid. Smaller, undetectable leaks can also wreak havoc on hydraulic systems, being pervasive enough to cause extensive damage and system failure.

Detecting Hydraulic System Leakage

System failure, overheating, and performance issues often reflect hydraulic fluid leaks (among other potential issues). Whether they are external or internal leaks, damage incurred from hydraulic system leakage does not always reflect obvious system issues. Leaks that start off relatively small and undetectable can accelerate component wear, resulting in added maintenance and repair.

Internal Hydraulic Fluid Leaks

Common internal hydraulic fluid leak causes include:

  • Fluid leaks from hydraulic cylinder drift/creep
  • Spool valve and relief valve issues
  • Component wear
  • Hydraulic cylinder design flaws
  • Improper fittings
  • Slippage
  • Low fluid viscosity

Internal hydraulic leaks can result in energy/power loss, system inefficiency, and unreliable hydraulic system performance.

External Hydraulic Fluid Leaks

While easier to detect than internal leaks, you can often detect external leaks by the appearance of consistent fluid dripping and leakage. If left unrepaired, external fluid leaks can contaminate your hydraulic system, allowing debris and moisture into the system.

  • Adding more fluid to the system while not repairing the leaks can cause increased wear
    • Low hydraulic fluid levels can increase the chances for internal leakage issues
  • Causes of external leaks include broken connections as well as damaged hoses, pipes, and seals

Preventative Maintenance for Hydraulic Fluid Leaks

One of the easiest ways to prevent hydraulic fluid leaks is to have a preventative maintenance schedule. While preventative maintenance will not eliminate the possibility of fluid leaks, it can help you catch small leaks before they become major issues of concern.

Scheduled maintenance ensures your hydraulic system is operating at peak performance levels while reducing operating costs associated with unexpected cylinder repair and replacement. Preventative maintenance can increase the longevity of your hydraulic system and help prevent accelerated component wear.

Why Identifying Hydraulic Cylinder Leaks Matters

Hydraulic system leaks seem like a minor annoyance but, the overall cost of leaks is what makes identifying them so important. Repair, replacement, and downtime are obvious costs associated with fluid leaks. Less obvious costs that can add up include:

  • Fluid replacement
  • Environmental issues/cleanup concerns
  • Workplace/worker safety

Identifying cylinder fluid leaks quickly can save you time and money, allowing you to keep your hydraulic systems performing at optimal levels.

Decrease Downtime from Hydraulic System Leaks

Worried your hydraulic leaks have ruined your system beyond repair? Check out our replacement hydraulic cylinders. HCI also manufactures performance-built custom hydraulic cylinders, built to spec and built to last.

Get hydraulic cylinder tips and maintenance from our monthly blog posts.

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